Sunday, October 23, 2011


Most Friday evenings I take a modern dance class at the studio that feeds the local ballet company in my city. I wanted to take dance as a kid, but I also wanted to take gymnastics and the parents ruled that I could choose one.

I chose gymnastics and loved it until the day that our teacher yelled at me for not activating my "core" muscles when doing a handstand over the vault. She was spotting and as I was bendy but not strong, I sort of crumpled. Also, I was 11 and hadn't the faintest idea how to find my core muscles.

More than 20 years later, I am still mesmerized by movement and feel compelled to seek it out. Now, 2 years into taking a weekly modern dance class, I'm struck by the parallels, the sort of complementary language, of modern dance to Ashtanga vinyasa yoga.

There is technique underneath both disciplines for sure. My calves and adductors in particular feel it after dance, but like the Ashtanga practice, with steady attention and practice, the technique is improving.

...but like the Ashtanga practice, there is always more than technique. I have watched dancers with near perfect technique that catch no one's attention because there is a quality missing underneath the precision. I might call that quality, energy, or maybe surrender, or maybe love.

This past Friday was a small group in dance, just 2 of us "regulars", which gave our teacher a chance to dance with us. Our teacher particularly makes me smile because she has been extremely patient with my complete lack of technical expertise in dance. She asks only that I work at it....and she looks like a normal person. She does not have a "ballet body". She is incredibly fit, amazingly strong and when she's really dancing, you cannot take your eyes off of her.

Watching a friend practice the next morning and waiting for the moment when my help would be needed in an assist, I was struck by the similarities to watching my dance teacher.

The technique may be the language, but the energy created by love and devotion to any discipline expressed through movement is mesmerizing.


  1. What a beautiful post- and a topic I am passionate about. I love what you wrote here: " The technique may be the language, but the energy created by love and devotion to any discipline expressed through movement is mesmerizing." I've been taking ice skating lessons once a week and notice similar things.

  2. Hi and thanks for the comment!
    I'm sure the same would be true for ice skating. I remember watching ice skaters as a kid when I still lived up north and was amazed at what was possible!